Veterans say poppy appeal being used to support war

By staff writers
November 6, 2010

Veterans from the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland have criticised the use of the red poppy to support current wars and conflicts.

In a letter printed in today's Guardian they write: “The Poppy Appeal is once again subverting Armistice Day. A day that should be about peace and remembrance is turned into a month-long drum roll of support for current wars. This year's campaign has been launched with showbiz hype. The true horror and futility of war is forgotten and ignored.

“The public are being urged to wear a poppy in support of "our Heroes". There is nothing heroic about being blown up in a vehicle. There is nothing heroic about being shot in an ambush and there is nothing heroic about fighting in an unnecessary conflict.

“Remembrance should be marked with the sentiment ‘Never Again’.”

Since the 1920s, some people have worn white poppies rather than red ones, in the belief that the best way to honour those who have died is to commit to active peacemaking.

The white poppy was made by women who had lost loved ones in World War One. They approached the makers of red poppies, and asked them to print “no more war” in the centre of the poppies. Their request was refused, so they made white ones instead.

The British Legion insists that red poppies are “neutral”. However, they also say that the poppy is about remembering soldiers not civilians, only British soldiers and not ‘enemy’ soldiers, and states that they are about remembering those “who died for our freedom.”

Robert Lee, the British Legion's spokesman, told the Guardian: "I am glad that they have noticed the change in campaigning. It's a fair cop. There have been criticisms, mainly from older veterans.

"We are the national custodians of remembrance but we are living in contemporary society. Not everything we do with the poppy appeal has to be static and serious, or conducted with a frown. It was very generous of the X Factor wearing poppies – that's caused quite a stir of Twitter, with people asking what they are.

"There is nothing in our appeal or campaigning which supports, or does not support, war: we are totally neutral. We are not a warmongering organisation. We don't have a position on war in Iraq or anywhere else. These boys don't send themselves to Iraq – that's a decision for the politicians.”

Also on Ekklesia: 'Reimagining Remembrance' report:


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